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Interview with Michael Krivka, Sr.
Author of Code Name: Indestructible

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Hello DIESELS.


York Barbell, June 2011

Today I have an interview with Michael Krivka, Sr. I first met Michael at my RKC certification in 2010 and then hung with him later on in 2011 at the York Barbell Museum when Slim the Hammerman Farman and the Mighty Adam Joe Greenstein were inducted into their Hall of Fame.

To the right you can see former York Employee, Mike Locondro with his brown jacket towards the left of the photo and then Michael Krivka (black shirt, white sleeve with print) is standing next to Slim “The Hammerman” Farman, on the right (black outfit, white goatee).

Recently, Michael put out a pretty cool ebook, Code Name Indestructible, based around the James Bond movies, so I reached out to him and asked him if he’d be interested in an interview. He agreed, and along the way I found out some pretty cool things about him too.


Jedd: Michael, thanks for taking the time to do the interview with me and everyone at DieselCrew.com.

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It’s my pleasure Jedd and thanks so much for the opportunity to talk with you and the community at Diesel Strength and Conditioning!

Jedd: First, could you tell us a bit about yourself, your training history, etc.

Michael: I’m a 50 year old Washington, DC native and I’ve been involved in physical training for the better part of my life. I started training in the martial arts when I was thirteen (starting with Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Western Fencing, Judo, Ninjutsu, etc.) and I still teach several times a week. I’ve been a student of Guro Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee’s training partner, for over 25 years and I’m a full instructor in JKD and the Filipino Martial Arts (Kali, Escrima and Arnis) as well an instructor in Lameco Eskrima.

You know me from the Russian Kettlebell arena where I have been an RKC (Russian Kettlbell Certified) for over a decade. I actually started lifting back when I was in High School to add some mass to my five foot ten inch frame. I graduated from High School at ninety eight pounds (scary isn’t it) and after spending some serious time in the gym working with my college football team I added eighty five pounds to my frame by the time I graduated four years later. To say that I bulked up would be an understatement. People who knew me from High School didn’t recognize me four years later!

I’m also a Crossfit Level I Trainer, CrossFit Kettlebell Trainer, and CrossFit Olympic Lifting Coach.
I know you from the realm of Kettlebell Training. Is this your primary mode of training and what made you transition to it?

I was originally introduced to Kettlebells when I was training in Sambo (Russian Combat Martial Art). I was training at one of the Russian embassies in downtown Washington, DC (with some “secret squirrel-types”) and saw a couple of Kettlebells in the corner of the training hall and asked one of my training partners about them. He showed me a couple things like the Swing, High Pull (one and two hand) and the “Two Hand Snatch” (what we now call the CrossFit or American Swing). I thought they were great because they reinforced the striking and throwing skills that we were practicing in Sambo.

Shorty thereafter a martial arts friend of mine from California mentioned that he had read about Kettlebells in a magazine (Milo) and that he had started training with them. I did a little research on the Internet (thanks Al Gore!) and found that there was going to be a two-day workshop given by Mike Mahler the following weekend so I signed up! I went to the workshop and was immediately floored by what you could do with the Kettlebell. People joke about “drinking the Kool-Aid” but man I was chugging the stuff! I fell in love with Kettlebell training and left on Sunday afternoon with the Kettlebell I was training with all weekend… and I still have it!

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Now (over ten years later) I do most of my training with either Kettlebells or body weight with a healthy dose of Barbell work thrown, mostly Deadlifts, Cleans, Military Presses, Jerks and Snatch. I train five to seven days a week doing hybrid Russian Kettlebell and CrossFit workouts, with several martial arts classes thrown in for good measure.

What level of experience do you have as a Kettlebell Instructor or Coach?

Michael: Well, I’m currently an RKC Team Leader but have been an RKC for over a decade. I’ve attended, I think, seven or eight RKC’s, the first and only RKC Convention in Las Vegas (that’s a story for a different time!), the Combat Application Specialist certification (which was the original RKC II), the CK-FMS, and the Body Weight Training Workshop (with Max Shank and Mark Reifkind). I have also been to several non-RKC Kettlebell certifications (not a good idea once you’ve been to an RKC and seen the quality and expertise presented there) as well as CrossFit certifications and mobility/flexibility workshops. As far asexperience outside of certifications and workshops: I’ve been running group workout classes seven days a week for the last five years and prior to that was teaching classes three to five days a week. That doesn’t count the time I put in for my own training and technique development. I can honestly say that I’ve had a Kettlebell in my hands pretty much every day for almost a decade – with the exception of a couple days when I was sick or recovering from surgery! I’m not happy without my daily dose of Iron!

Jedd: For those who may not be familiar, what exactly is the RKC?

MAK_KB

The RKC, which stands for Russian Kettlebell Certification, is a three-day certification that exposes you to the seven foundational techniques: the Deadlift, Swing, Squat, Clean, Press, Snatch and Turkish Get-up. Three days of hands-on training, critique and evaluation with some of the top Kettlebell instructors in the world will give you a strong foundation to build upon when you return home. Some people are amazed at the changes in their technical ability and are awestruck by the changes they feel over the course of a weekend. I’ve been to a lot of certifications and I’ve seen some pretty incredible work come out of them. I can honestly say that the RKC experience is the top of the line when it comes to hands-on training. I’ve been to a lot of workshops and certifications in my lifetime, between physical fitness, strength, and martial arts, and nothing (and I do mean NO THING) compares to the level of training you will receive there. Yep, it’s a lot more expensive than other certifications – and it’s worth it!

Jedd: When I saw you at York Barbell in 2011, you were running a Wounded Warrior project centered around Kettlebell Training. Could you tell us a bit more about that: what is it, how you got involved, and do you continue to do so today?

MAK_York_2012

Michael: We were there as part of the events we had scheduled for a charity we started called “Kettlebells for Warriors” whose goal is to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project and other charities that support our returning troops. We started Kettlebells for Warriors after having a discussion with my good friend Mike Locondro about how we felt we could do more to help out those who were returning with Traumatic Brain Injuries, PTSD, loss of limbs, and other physical injuries. It was a great idea but we needed a vehicle to get the process moving and we settled on using the Kettlebell due to it’s universal appeal in the military and elite fitness communities. We’ve been holding events each year and are in the process of re-focusing our fund raising efforts in order to maximize our impact. We are planning on having one large international event in 2013 and several smaller national events that will bring people together to have a great time working out and raising money for a good cause.

Jedd: Recently, you put out a new product called Code Name: Indestructible. Could you tell us about how you went about designing this program?

Michael: Code Name: Indestructible (CNI) was a labor of love! I’ve been a fan of the James Bond movies (and books) my whole life and I’ve seen each and every one of them countless times. A couple years ago I was rummaging around for an idea for a series of workouts and I put together the “Bond Girl” series. Let me tell you – these were crazy workouts! A lot of fun but just complete bi@#$es to do – which pretty much fits the Bond Girls themselves! Anyway, along with that series I started playing with the idea of doing a series of workouts based on the movies but never really finished the project. When I started hearing more about the most recent Bond film “Skyfall” I broke out my notes and started looking at finally completing the series. I even went back and watched a bunch of the movies over again to inspire me to create some really challenging workouts that would mirror the physical requirements Bond would need to survive.

Jedd: I can tell you are an amazing James Bond movie buff, due to the name of your ebook, and the workouts that your ebook includes. Could you tell us how you go about constructing workouts?

Michael: I’ve got to tell you that I had to modify some of the original workouts, not because they were too hard (and they were), but because there wasn’t a clear purpose behind the workout. Call it inexperience, but the purpose of the original series was to crush the person without a clear-cut plan or progression. I like to think that I’m a lot smarter now, but I could be wrong! Anyway, I went back and re-constructed some of the workouts and then created brand new ones for the remainder.

I have to say that I have been STRONGLY influenced by the work of Pavel and especially Dan John. I’ve always enjoyed reading Dan’s books, blog and his articles, and I can honestly say that my workouts have become better due to his influence. In particular I have found his breaking down of the basic movement skills into Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Carry and Other Ground Work (i.e. the Turkish Get-up) to be revolutionary. I tend to look at my clients through this framework and then design workouts around the “holes” they have in their movement patterns. If you look at the workouts in CNI you will see the hand of Dan John in many of them – kind of like Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s multiple appearances as James Bond’s nemesis! BTW – true “Bondphiles” will know what I’m talking about!

Jedd: Right now many people will be committing to bettering their health in various ways. Could your product help these people out?

Michael: That’s a great question Jedd and the answer is: ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY! Along with the James Bond-themed workouts are several chapters on how to properly program the workouts to assure your success. Dan John, who wrote the Preface to CNI, mentioned that you really need to read the first part of the book before you jump into the workouts to get the best results!

I’m a firm believer in having a plan in place in order to succeed, and if you go after a goal without a plan in place, with definitive steps in place, you are not going to succeed. CNI goes into a lot of depth about how you should plan, monitor and review your workouts in order to guarantee you make progress and that you succeed. I think this information is the most important part of the book and that it will most likely get overlooked! The workouts are great and a lot of fun and I’m concerned that people will skip right over the background guidance content and skip right to the workouts!

Jedd: For those who might pick this ebook up, what level of expertise with kettlebells should they have?

Michael: I think a beginner with Kettlebells can get CNI and be able to do all of the workouts. One thing you have to understand about any of the workouts, and my own personal training and teaching strategy, is that you can scale and modify any workout and still keep its effectiveness. Let’s say that one of the workouts has Kettlebell Snatch and Pull-ups in it and you are absolutely horrible at both of them! Do you skip that workout and try to find another one? Nope – scale it! Can you do One-Hand Swings or One-Hand High Pulls? Great! Get rid of the Kettlebell Snatch and do those instead. Can’t do Pull-ups? How about doing Jumping Pull-ups or Ring Rows instead? You’re still going to get an amazing workout and when you finally develop the additional skills (Kettlebell Snatch and Pull-ups) the workout will seem brand new to you.

Jedd: Are the movements in the ebook covered as far as how to do them properly, either by stills or video demonstrations?

Michael: Each workout has a brief review of the skills required to accomplish the “mission” and I try to give succinct pointers on how to do them safely and effectively. I’ve even put in links to techniques that you may not know how to do in several workouts. For the most part, if you don’t know how to do a particular technique, you’ll be able to find a video on YouTube or go to your website for examples of how to do them. Just be sure to check out the credentials of the person who is demoing the technique and stay away from anything associated with Jillian Michaels!

Jedd: I noticed that many of your workouts are not entirely based on using kettlebells alone. What other types of equipment do your workouts include and why?

Michael: While I think the Russian Kettlebell is any amazing tool for building full-body strength and endurance it can’t meet all of your strength and conditioning needs. I think a heavy dose of Body Weight skills (i.e. Push-ups, Pull-ups, Sit-outs, Handstands, Crawling, etc.) along with Olympic and Powerlifting techniques have to be included to add size and strength. I’ve even included my favorite “torture device” the Wheel of Pain (WOP) aka the Ab Wheel in this series. If you’ve never learned how to use this tool properly you are in for a world of hurt!

Jedd: Aside from your expert ability at weaving James Bond themes into your ebook, what else sets this apart from other kettlebell training programs?

Michael: I think there are a lot of things that distinguish this program from others that are on the market right now. First, I’ve actually put people through each and every one of these workouts and get feedback on all of them. These just aren’t products of my imagination – they’ve been field-tested and refined and then tested again. Second, I’m not going to blow smoke up any of your orifices with this program – it’s hard and it’s meant to be. I’m not going “slash inches off of your waistline” or “instantly add twenty pounds to your bench press”. What I am going to do is challenge your athletic ability and make you stronger and more durable. Some of the workouts are going to make you wonder why you’ve been hiding behind a machine for so long and not doing the things that are going to make you healthier and more resilient. Finally, I’ve been around the block a couple times and the people that I respect in the Strength and Conditioning community know me and have looked over this program and have given it “two thumbs up” across the board. I didn’t write CNI to make a fast buck or to create an instant reputation for myself. My reputation and credentials are already in place and I wrote CNI because so many of my friends, colleagues, and clients insisted that I get some of this info on paper and out into the public’s hands.

Jedd: Michael, thanks a lot for all the information today.

Michael: Thanks so much Jedd for giving me the opportunity to share with your readers my thoughts on training and information about Code Name: Indestructible. I hope they enjoyed learning more about it and keep up the amazing work that you are doing at DieselCrew.com!


Follow the banner below to check out Code Name Indestructible

code-name-indestructible-banner

Basic Kettlebell Juggling – EXPLAINED

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Note from Jedd: Many people have wondered whether the Version 2.0 of the Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling covers the basic of kettlebell juggling. It does indeed cover that. Also, several years ago, I put up the following article covering the technique I started with in kettlebell juggling, the Kettlebell forward flip and catch. Check it out below.

Don’t forget – Logan has extended the contest for the free iPad through this weekend, so make sure to try to attain at least Level 1 amongst the Kettlebell Juggling Progression List and Ranking System.



Photo Source: Niki DeSantis. Athlete: Mike Rankin

If you’ve been around the NET at all, you’ve seen a lot of video clips where people juggle kettlebells.  There are tons of different ways to juggle kettlebells.  I’ve seen guys do it behind their back, going between their legs, and even juggling more than one bell at a time.

While you may also have the goal of mastering the art of kettlebell juggling, it’s important to start out on the right foot or else you could get very frustrated and maybe even injured by improper technique. The way I started out was by performing what I call the Forward Flip and Catch.

In order to get started with kettlebell juggling, it’s important to understand a few simple points.

Juggling Starts With a Swing

In order to juggle a kettlebell, you have to be able to get the kettlebell up near the chest and neck area.  Once the kettlebell is in this position, you have a window of opportunity to impart other forces upon it to make the juggling possible.

If you are dealing with a heavy kettlebell, I’m talking something over 50 lbs, then you need to get your whole body involved to get the kettlebell up high enough.

This should be done by performing a swing.  If you are no good at kettlebell swings, then you should master that movement before moving on to juggling.

The swing looks like this.

kettlebell swing 1kettlebell swing 3
The Swing

The bell is projected to this height not just by lifting it with the shoulder and arm, but rather it is propelled to that position by the lower body, especially the power of the hips and glutes.  After the kettlebell is pulled through the legs, the hips are snapped and the bell travels upward in its trajectory. This hip power is also responsible for getting the flip going.

Transition to a High Pull

In the standard Kettlebell Swing, the arm is kept straight.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to express any power into the kettlebell if your arm is straight, so it is necessary to transition the swing into a high pull.

The High Pull is performed slightly different from a barbell high pull, however.  Instead of pulling the bell up in a primarily straight line, the bell comes up in the arc and then is pulled backward for the high pull portion.

kettlebell high pull 2kettlebell high pull 3

It is this slight back pull that brings the bell closer to your body where you can then exert other forces into it and make it flip around so that you can juggle it.

The Thumb Push

In this example, we will perform the Forward Flip. Once the bell reaches it’s highest point, it is time to make it flip.

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Hand Radially Deviated as Thumb Pushes the Handle Away

For a Forward Flip, the thumb is the part of your hand that will actually make the kettlebell flip, because it is the last part of the hand that contacts the kettlebell handle.  With this in mind, you can also slightly shift your hand into radial deviation so that you can optimize the positioning of the thumb and propel the bell forward to initiate the flip.

Catching the Bell

It is important to understand that when flipping and juggling kettlebells, the axis about which the kettlebell spins is within the bell and not the handle.  Grasping this concept will allow you to better predict where the handle will be when you go to grab and catch it.

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axis3axis4
Kettlebell Spinning 180 Degrees on its Axis, Falling Only Inches

As you can see in the series above, the kettlebell spins on an axis near the center. The handle flies forward and down, moving into position for the catch.

If your technique is dialed in you will catch the bell in almost the same exact spot you flipped it.  You can even get your other hand into position beneath the bell ahead of time, as pictured above.

After you try the Forward Flip a few times, you’ll be able to predict where the handle will be.  Once you get the feel you will be able to move your hand to find the kettlebell handle and secure it again in your grasp.

Receiving and Returning the Bell

Once you figure out the tempo of the Swing / High Pull / Flip sequence, you will be able to rip off several Forward Flips in a row.  However, just like any other kettlebell lift, efficiency is important in order to put together a string of Forward Flips.

Many beginner jugglers find it hard to put together Forward Flips in succession because once they catch the bell they fail to maintain an arc in the bell path.  If they try to catch the bell and drop it straight down, they will lose a lot of momentum.  Instead, you should try to catch the bell by the handle and then let the bell pass back down through the legs.  By maintaining this arc, you can more easily explode back into another swing, high pull, and flip.

Putting it All Together

Here is everything put together in action. Notice the path of the bell upwards, the location of my hands, and the quick transition into the next repetition.

Hopefully, the sequences of still shots and the video help you understand the basics of kettlebell juggling.

Once you get that one down, then you can progress from there. Here’s the progression to work on for basic juggling.

  • Same Hand Forward Flip and Catch (shown first in video)
  • Hand to Hand Forward Flip and Catch (shown at end of video)
  • Same Hand Sideways Forward Flip and Catch
  • Hand to Hand Sideways Forward Flip and Catch
  • Same Hand Backward Flip and Catch
  • Hand to Hand Backward Flip and Catch
  • Same Hand Sideways Backward Flip and Catch
  • Hand to Hand Sideways Backward Flip and Catch

That should get you started! All the best with your juggling.

Jedd


movarrowLearn How to Juggle Kettlebells with The G0-To Resource,
The Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling 2.0, from Logan Christopher:



Interview with Logan Christopher: Kettlebell Juggling

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

As I write this, I just finished an interview with Logan Christopher. In it, we focus on Kettlebell Juggling and its many benefits.

Interview:
Logan Christopher on Kettlebell Juggling < = For Best Results, Right Click the Link and Save the Audio File to Your Computer/Device.


Logan has a new release out, the Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling 2.0.

I got a copy of his original Kettlebell Juggling DVD set several years ago and it was awesome. I could not believe the lengths and the detail he covered in that DVD Set.

This is the testimonial I sent Logan as soon as I was done watching Logan’s original Kettlebell Juggling Guide:

    “Logan, you have put together an outstanding resource for kettlebell juggling. I thought it was great how you were able to organize all of the various juggling techniques and then lay them out in a progressive format. In my training, I have done several different types of kettlebell throws and catches, but you opened up doors of variation that I have not seen or used in the past! I especially liked the way you maneuver the bell behind your back, through the legs and how you incorporate moving over a distance with your throws. I recommend this DVD set to anyone who is looking to open a new chapter in their kettlebell training!”

As big as the original Guide to KB Juggling was (an awesome 2-DVD set) Version 2.0 is even bigger. You’ve got to check this thing out: Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling 2.0.

All the best in your training.

Jedd

Benefits of Kettlebell Flipping and Juggling

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

This article was originally posted at TheGripAuthority.com, my grip strength coaching site in October of 2010 and has been slightly edited to bring it up to date.

Benefits of Kettlebell Flipping and Juggling

Kettlebell Flipping may seem like a pointless stunt to some.

It may also seem like something that has no bearing on Grip Strength.

Both of these assumptions are wrong.

The Kettlebell’s Effect on Grip Strength

I once sat down with Andrew Durniat, the 2009, 2011, and 2012 North American Grip Sport Champion, about his training, and he told me that he felt a great deal of his Gripper Strength and his Support Strength could be credited to his years of training with kettlebells.

Now, at one time, Andrew was (and given his extraordinary athletic ability probably still could be) one of the best in the world at Kettlebell Sport. Andrew credits much of his Grip success to his Kettlebell work, and I can’t even venture a guess at the number of reps he has done.

With all of the tremendous volume that is present with Kettlebell Sport, there is an unbelievable amount of dynamic strength being engaged with the hands, fingers, and thumbs in order to control the kettlebell and reverse it’s momentum, especially during Long Cycle competition.

Now, I am not going to tell everybody they have to go take up Kettlebell Sport in order to improve their Grip.

However, I do feel there is benefit in plucking from the Kettlebell Sport in order to reap the specific benefit of Grip Strength Enhancement for the purposes we are all looking for.

The objective, then, is to figure out a way we can target that dynamic volume subjected to the hands, fingers and thumbs with kettlebells while being able to package it neatly into our training program.

THE ANSWER: Kettlebell Flipping & Juggling

Kettlebell Flipping involves maneuvering the kettlebell in a circle in the air either from one hand to the other or releasing it and then grasping it again with the same hand. Flipping is normally done directly in front of you, only.

Kettlebell Juggling involves more advanced maneuvers, including passing the bell behind the back, through the legs, and other demanding drills.

Grip Strength Benefits from Kettlebell Flipping & Juggling

Here are some of the benefits you can take away from Kettlebell Flipping and Juggling:

Dynamic Grip Strength – As we have already highlighted, Kettlebell Flipping puts a great deal of load into the hands, fingers, and thumbs and requires rapid firing as well as eccentric strength, similar to controlling a large Gripper while the handles open.

Thumb Strength / Stability – Kettlebell Flipping is highly dependent on the Thumbs. In many Flipping Techniques the Thumb is the primary generator of propulsion to get the rotation of the kettlebell started, when done properly.

Forearm Size / Strength – We all know that the finger flexors originate in the elbow and travel through the forearm. Thus Flipping Kettlebells will increase strength, stamina and size in the Forearms, especially if you continue to push yourself to using heavier Kettlebells.

Wrist Strength – The Wrist is targeted with Flipping, especially when the Kettlebell is Flipped sideways. Also, because the handle sometimes loses its proper track, in order to correct it and flip it again, the wrist MUST be able to handle the torque as well as renegotiate it.

Hip Strength – While the Kettlebell Swing is the basic starting point for most Kettlebell Training, in my experience, the force that is created when performing longer sets of Swings is not maximal. However, with Kettlebell Flipping, especially with heavier bells, the hips MUST engage powerfully every single time in order to bring the kettlebell to the height it needs to be in order to perform Flips correctly.

Conditioning – Despite the fact that the hands are targeted heavily with Kettlebell Flipping, when you go for very high repetitions and when you use a heavy bell, the whole body must fire. This involves a great deal of musculature throughout the body and thus gets your heart pumping, increases demands of the lungs, gets you sweating and gets you breathing – this is some serious cardio potential without having to get onto a cardio machine.

So, how do you get started performing Kettlebell Flipping and Juggling?

Well, I have several short tutorials scattered all over the Internet. However, my expertise is limited primarily to the Flipping – maneuvering the Kettlebell directly in front of your body.

In my opinion, when it comes to true Kettlebell Juggling, there’s nobody I know of better than Logan Christopher.

I have seen this dude pull off some pretty amazing stunts over the years with both heavy and lighter kettlebells. I’ve even seen him perform Kettlebell Juggling with a FLAMING KETTLEBELL.

Yes, the thing was on FIRE! And I am not talking about a little blue flame like the kind that comes out of a butane lighter – I am talking about gigantic bursting flame thrower fire like you’d see at a Fire-Eater show in Vegas.

Check this out:

The DARKNESS just makes it even more visually impressive, but you’d see that Kettlebell Bonfire clearly if it were daytime too!

Wanna Learn Kettlebell Juggling Basics?

Logan is giving away a free instructional video that he shot as part of a recent seminar here: How to Juggle Kettlebells.

I love Kettlebell Juggling. It is by far my favorite form of Cardio, especially with its additional Grip Enhancing Benefits.

If you want to learn it too, check out the link above.

All the best in your training.

Jedd

Fat Gripz

High Volume Kettlebell Training by Bud Jeffries

Monday, February 20th, 2012

High Volume Kettlebell Training and its Benefits

by Bud Jeffries

First I want to say, “Thanks,” to Jedd for giving me the opportunity to step in and do a guest blog for the Diesel Crew. You guys have done great work for the fitness and strength community and I wanted to throw a bit back. When we talked about my contributing a blog post Jedd wanted me to answer, “Why would I do crazy high volume kettlebell work and what are the benefits of it?”


Bud Jeffries – 1-hand Swing

So if you don’t know I’ve specialized in the kettlebell swing for the past few years. I say “specialized,” in that it’s been one of my primary combined strength and cardio workouts and there’s an entire methodology behind why and what I do. It’s primary in that I’m also always working on much heavier strongman work and I’m also working on different types of cardiovascular capacity so the high volume workouts that I do are not just limited to kettlebells, but they’ll also involve barbells, dumbbells, bodyweight, sledgehammers, cables, maces, and strongman work for instance super high rep tire flipping, sled dragging, heavy bag punching, etc. I’m normally circulating through any of 100 or more different types of exercise.

Overall though I really have specialized in high-rep kettlebell work. When I say “high rep,” we need to quantify the term for the purposes of this blog. If you don’t know what I’m talking about already – I’m not talking about 100 reps – I’m talking about something in the neighborhood of 1,000 reps. Not all the workouts are that high, but some of them are much higher – Even into the 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 repetition ranges.

Why Such High Volume Training?

Why would I do that since it seems counterproductive in the idea of building maximum strength and muscle? There are many reasons.

I Wanted to Remake Myself

I spent 16 years with one goal in mind – squatting 1,000 pounds. Over that 16 year course I went from 230lbs to 385lbs and went from a 225lb squat to a 1,000lb squat. I achieved my goal, but I also got freakin’ huge. I was huge and muscular and incredibly strong, but it was way too much fat to carry for a long period of time and I wanted to change that.

After much research and thinking it through the kettlebell swing was probably the primary vehicle by which to do that. I also believe that people who are like me who don’t have the easy, fast, fat burning metabolism that most people do either because they don’t eat right or they have years of gaining weight behind them instead of losing weight respond well to the kettlebell.

The idea behind “…years of gaining weight instead of losing,” is that the body is always learning to do one thing or the other. If you’re teaching it to gain weight then it goes permanently in that mode until you spend enough time going the opposite way and then it begins to lean out, resetting your hormones and whole body. I believe the kettlebell swing was the most opportune way to do create that effect.


1700-lb Rack Squat

The swing created the most muscular work that you could maintain for the longest period of time, spread across the largest range of the body, with the highest cardiovascular demand at the same time. On a rep-per-rep basis there are other exercises that you could argue create a higher cardiovascular demand, however not necessarily the right type of demand that I’m talking about.

For instance, rep-for-rep the kettlebell snatch (essentially an extended kettlebell swing), is possibly more aerobic, because on a rep-per-rep basis it covers twice the distance, but it also begins to pinpoint other muscles. That really long distance makes it, for most people, truly slow down until you have a massive cardiovascular and muscular base under which to work. I believe the spread muscular work of the swing combined with the idea that you can continue it for long periods of time and at the same time achieve an extended cardiovascular capacity and an extended muscular strength capacity made it the ultimate exercise for fat loss as well as a huge base from which to do 1,000 reps of thousands of other exercises.

It cut fat while not ripping into my strength
which is a major factor for me. The average person might just want to cut fat, but I spent a lifetime building up massive amounts of strength and it would terribly hurt my feelings to lose all that strength just because I lost weight. I’m sure for most of you it would as well. The key in not losing strength as you lose weight, and this is a bonus here, is not doing it super fast. You can’t drop 50 pounds in a month and not expect it to take a hit to your strength.

Combining Muscular and Cardiovascular effort

Every time you do a swing you’re teaching the muscles strength and teaching them to fire and you’re also creating high cardiovascular capacity. The high calorie burning and cardiovascular component of the swing burns off fat. That continuous repeated muscular motion teaches the body not to give up strength and muscle just because you’re doing it in an extended way. I found that by going to the one-handed swing I could switch hands every 10 reps or so and keep pushing my whole body for long periods of time. This began to reset my entire definition of what strength and cardiovascular capacity combined were, should be and could be.

I know right now it’s popular to do interval cardio and short cardio and I believe in that style of training and I’ve quantified it in my own way by calling it “short-intense cardio.” Through exposure to other people and through one of the brilliant things great strongman John Brookfield said to me, “You have to get past the interval to really get to strength and to really get to endurance,” I began to have a modified thought on this activity. Stopping just because you have a pre-planned set of time is actually teaching the body to quit versus just going as hard and as far as you can.

When you explore that deeply you find that you can go much harder, longer and faster than you thought. That’s what we’re all after. Why would you only sprint 100 yards if you could sprint 400? Now I understand you may want to repeat those things and I’m not saying anything against intervals and I certainly do believe in very intense, short levels of cardio so in comparing that I might take a 53lb or 24kg kettlebell and swing it for 1,000 or 2,000 reps without stopping, but I also might take a 150lb 2-handed kettlebell and swing it for multiple sets of 20 reps mixed with bodyweight exercises moving back and forth in a workout that only lasts 5, 10 or 15 minutes. That would be incredibly intense both from a muscular and cardiovascular standpoint.

The whole point to this is I want some of my cardio to be as intense as possible and as long as I want to make it 30 minutes or more, because I truly believe this creates a high calorie burn as well as a massive overhaul in your potential muscular strength and endurance. I want some of it to be as intense and heavy as possible and not governed by a time interval, but more by the weight and difficulty of the exercise often using more than one exercise switching back and forth so I can go as long as possible for the pre-set time period or repetition count – whichever I had chosen. The idea is to absolutely max out my heart rate for a short period of time and the other idea being the “Third way cardio” idea as put forth by Marty Gallagher which is long, extended, muscular and aerobic effort done in a continuous fashion.

Really it’s a type of capacity that most people haven’t tapped that most everyone does possess the ability to achieve. If you really want to be able to recover from those workouts, build the ability for your heart and muscles and lungs to fire for an extended period of time and then five to ten to 20 reps of squats just doesn’t feel very hard when you can do a 1,000 or2,000 swings without stopping. I felt there was an entire other level of strength to be had there, but what most people have missed and truthfully only a few people have explored, is not mixing them together and I think that’s why it’s more effective to do it the way I’ve done it.

John Brookfield is one example and a few other people have done things that go along the lines of this: 1,000 reps of push presses or 1,000 snatches or 2,000 swings and the ability to do other heavy exercises at the same time, but if you approach both capacities together, it is possible to have them at the same time. For instance; on my birthday this year I did 4,000 swings and a 1,500lb quarter squat just for fun to see if I could personally challenge myself.

What am I doing? I’m expanding my capacity in both directions, both my maximum strength and maximum endurance together. John has done all kinds of incredible strength feats and grip work in an absolute max capacity, but has also done incredible endurance work and I believe that is the upper end of physical capacity that most of us are missing. When you build into thosem you play them into each other – Your maximum strength will tie exactly into your ability to perform your maximum strain cardio or short cardio I spoke of, which will, in-turn pull directly into your third way or very long cardio. They will all play back and forth to each other as long as you begin to develop the capacities. That doesn’t mean you should do them all at the same time, it means they need to be mixed specifically. You should build a base first and build up to them.

Let’s Be Honest

Let’s be honest – Real long term health and long term strength has to have a strength endurance capacity. It’s wonderful to be able to squat 1,000lbs, but not great to be 380- 400lbs to be able to do it and give up years of your life if you carry too much body fat or you aren’t physically or cardiovascularly as healthy as you could be (that doesn’t mean that big guys can’t be healthy. I believe I’m still living proof of that,) or you’ll ever achieve a physical Adonis perfection which I’m pretty sure the men reading this site aren’t terribly worried about.

Though if we’re being honest we all want to look better. I’ve been able to rip 120lbs of weight off, but I’m still not “perfect,” by contemporary standards. My physical perfection by others standards is not what concerns me, what I care about is having an increased cardiovascular and endurance level and a totally different level of physical capacity and I found this by doing it with those explosive muscular and continuous movements. I got better at the short cardio and maintained and built types of strength I didn’t have before.

You can have maximum muscular strength, maximum short term endurance and maximum long term endurance and not spend every waking minute in the gym. I cut that 120lbs and didn’t work out more than an average of three hours per week. That includes one third way cardio session, one max intense cardio session and one max strength work session per week and all of them reasonably short and most of it not with incredibly high volumes. However when I worked high volumes in specific work such as circuits of 8-10 bodyweight exercises done for 25 reps a piece, repeated 4 or 5 times so I get more than 1,000 reps in a 30 or 45 minute workout, or one exercise done as far and as hard as possible I saw massive results.

Both have their place and are incredible ways to build world class cardiovascular capacity as well as world class muscular strength and endurance and keep your body fat low in a way that lets you still be a normal guy – eat real food, have a beer occasionally and be able to play in any world you want to.

I was able to maintain a schedule that had me doing 300 strongman shows in 9 months. I was able to keep high level strength in pressing, rowing, deadlifting and squatting. I was able to burn off a tremendous amount of body fat and play into any other type of training that I wanted, inclusive of martial arts, without having to specialize in them, all on four or five hours per week by training all those capacities together. The health you build in your tendons, ligaments and bones and muscles by that extended work, the incredible circulation, the heart and endurance capacity, is impossible to beat in just about any other way. It is far superior to the average slow cardio.

So – What Is It Doing?

So what is it doing? It’s taking what the average person thinks is hard cardio and extending your possible ability to do it for the same amount of time that you would do easy or slow cardio. Thereby you are building a really elite capacity for strength and an elite capacity for short term strength endurance. It’s building the ability to do amazing physical things and max out every area of strength as well as max out your health. It’s keeping your body fat low and doing it in a way that gives you the ability to play for a lifetime in any way you want with simple implements. That my friends is an amazing amount to get for just a few hours of training per week and that’s why I went to the super high volume kettlebell work.

I believe in working with the swing it allowed me to build the base to jump off to every other type of kettlebell work – For instance I’ve been able to do massive snatch workouts, massive one arm pressing workouts, which are my other favorite work to do with the kettlebell and set some incredible PRs inclusive of 200 one arm presses in 5 minutes and 7 seconds with a 24kg/ 54lb kettlebell. 340+snatches with a 35lb kettlebell in 10 minutes as well 1500 snatches in 68 minutes. Also 1,100 one arm push presses with that 24kg bell in one hour.

You can do amazing things if you just set your mind to it and treat your cardio with the same type of intensity as you would your strength work. We all want to get incredibly muscularly strong and you can if you follow all the smart stuff Jedd and the guys and I talk about, but you also need that high level capacity and I believe they can be reciprocally inhibited. What does that mean? If you don’t keep your cardio up high enough, eventually the strength work becomes so taxing you that you cannot recover from it and then your body does not allow you to become stronger.

Similarly speaking, if you do not keep your strength high enough your body will eventually interpret your cardiovascular movements as so difficult in their percentage of perceived intensity as well as their actual physical level of strength that it won’t allow you to go further because you won’t have the strength to keep going. But if you work them together you can get max world class capacity at both if you just learn to do it the right way. High rep kettlebell stuff is really one of them – You can do amazing things if you just put your mind to it. See the video for more training info.

Bud Jeffries is the owner of Strongerman.com where you can read much more about in combining super strength and super endurance together like in his newest book I Will Be Iron.